MARIETTA — North Forsyth kept its season alive Friday night, and preserved a chance to pull one of the bigger upsets of the state baseball playoffs.
North (10-17) capitalized on eight Lassiter errors and forced a decisive third game with a 7-5 win in Game 2 of Friday’s Class AAAAA first round series in Marietta.
The two teams were set to meet again on Saturday in Marietta, with the winner advancing to face the Harrison-Jenkins winner Wednesday.
Lassiter won the first game Friday 3-0 behind a dominating pitching performance from ace Caleb Kutsche.
The Raiders regrouped in between games, after receiving a stern pep talk from coach Jim Cahill.
“He jumped on us and we needed to be jumped on,” said senior Trevor Sams, who started Game 2 and grinded through five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits.
“We came out flat. But we got a few things going in the second game and got some help from them, so we’ll go home tonight, rest up and be back.”
Cahill said he simply reiterated to his team about its approach at the plate between games. The result was a small-ball attack that gave Lassiter fits in a six-run third inning.
Michael Henderson’s two-run single highlighted the barrage, but five errors by the Trojan infield were the biggest catalyst for Raider rally. The first seven North batters reached base in an inning that included multiple misplayed bunts and ended with the Raiders leading 6-3.
“If you make eight errors, you’re not going to win,” Lassiter coach Scott Kelly said.
“If you can’t field a bunt, then you’re not going to win. It’s as simple as that.”
“We’ve played small ball a lot this year, and it’s really worked for us,” said Cahill, who has the Raiders in the playoffs for the second straight season.
The teams exchanged runs in the fifth inning, with Lassiter scoring on Chris Heitzman’s RBI single to cut the North lead to 6-4.
The Raiders responded, again taking advantage of a miscue by the Lassiter infield. Sams’ sacrifice bunt brought home Michael Oldham and gave closer Hammond Hughes a three-run cushion to protect.
Hughes was up to the task, pitching a scoreless sixth and striking out two in the seventh to keep North’s season alive.
Game 1: Lassiter 3, North Forsyth 0
The Raiders couldn’t come up with the big hit again Kutsche. North left the bases loaded in the first inning and was unable to capitalize on consecutive singles to lead off the seventh inning.
The Raiders stranded seven runners overall.
Junior right-hander Chris Vincent pitched well for the Raiders, surrendering a two-run home run to Patrick Levandoski and an RBI single to Tyler Elwer among 10 Lassiter hits. Vincent lasted six innings, keeping the Raiders in the game with some key strikeouts and the help of some timely defensive plays, including center fielder Kaulin Andric’s running over-the-shoulder catch in the fifth inning.
Sams and Nick Fernandez had back-to-back singles in the first inning, but Kutsche induced consecutive ground outs to get out of the jam. Kutsche retired 10 straight batters at one point and was in complete control until Bailey Mauldin and Michael Oldham started the seventh with consecutive singles.
But pinch-hitter Jamie Wilson flied out to deep right field, and Nick Aiken popped out to shallow right to end the threat.
Kutsche allowed six hits, with three strikeouts and no walks in seven shutout innings.